Jul 072014

President Benigno Aquino III didn’t receive bad advice from his legal advisers as regards his release of billons of pesos under the Disbursement Acceleration Program, parts of which the Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional, presidential spokesperson Secretary Edwin Lacierda told reporters on Monday.

It just so happened that Malacañang had a difference of opinion with the Supreme Court as regards government savings, he added.

“We have a divergence of opinions with the Supreme Court. We have our own way of looking at things. It just so happens…. This is not a question of whether you have a bad legal advice. It’s a question of the primacy of one institution over the other,” Lacierda said when asked if the Aquino received less than satisafactory legal advice from his advisers when DAP was conceptualized.

“We have a number of cases that the Supreme Court has already found and agreed with us. There are other cases where the Supreme Court and the executive branch may differ. So it’s a question of how one looks at the law, not so much of whether the President has a bad legal team,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda said the striking down of some of the President’s orders by the SC only shows “the primacy of one institution over the other.”  He said that while the executive branch was called upon to implement the country’s laws, the Suprfeme Court had the mandate to interpret said laws.

He added that the administration could “showcase the positive effects” of the DAP.

“The fact the beneficial effects of DAP were even recognized over and over and over again in the Supreme Court decision. So it is something that we can stand by, the projects that have benefited the country, and this is all found in the Supreme Court decision itself,” Lacierda said.

Aside from the DAP, the Supreme Court also struck down as unconstitutional Aquino’s first ever executive order, creating the Truth Commission that would have investigated graft under the Arroyo administration.

It also found unconstutional  Aquino’s EO revoking the supposed midnight appointments of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. 

The controversies surrounding the Aquino administration’s disbursement acceleration program (DAP) were not caused by supposed factions among Cabinet members, Malacañang said Monday.

Lacierda also denied a newspaper report that said factionalism within Malacañang could have resulted in the DAP fiasco.

According to the report, then Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Eduardo De Mesa said he wasn’t consulted by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad about the legality of the DAP.

Lacierda said he had no basis to either confirm or deny de Mesa’s statement.

Abad belongs to the Balay faction of the Aquino administration while De Mesa is identified with the Samar group.

The Balay group is led by Aquino’s running mate in the 2010 elections, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II.  Samar is headed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa. Ochoa’s faction is believed to have supported in 2010 the candidacy of opposition bet and eventual winner Vice President Jejomar Binay.

“Hindi yata tama iyon. I don’t think that’s true… I had an occasion to be in a meeting where one particular DAP project was discussed, and there was no factionalism involved,” Lacierda told reporters.

The Supreme Court last week declared certain acts under the government’s DAP as unconstitutional, including the declaration of unobligated allotments as savings, the cross-border transfers of savings of the executive to other branches of government, and the funding of projects not stated in the national budget. —NB, GMA News

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